Blackstone Buys $250 Million Stake in Outsourcing Startup TaskUs

(Bloomberg) -- Blackstone Group LP is buying a large stake in TaskUs, a startup that handles customer service and content moderation for many Silicon Valley companies, in a deal that values the company at more than $500 million, the companies said early Thursday morning. 

Blackstone is investing $250 million, according to a person familiar with the deal who asked not to be identified because some details remain private. The startup’s valuation does not include money raised, the company said. 

The funding is a significant move for TaskUs, which had previously raised only $15 million from Navegar, a private equity firm based in the Philippines. Most of TaskUs’s employees work in the Philippines though its headquarters is near Los Angeles. The company provides labor behind the scenes for a suite of technology startups such as Uber Technologies Inc., Tinder, HotelTonight, Wish and Gusto. Among their tasks, TaskUs workers answer emails and phone calls when someone’s lunch is mis-delivered, and they scan the photos and messages users upload to social networks to filter out unwanted content.

TaskUs’s clients include many food-delivery services and almost all social media networks, said Chief Executive Officer Bryce Maddock. The company also handles a growing demand for image and video tagging, often used by autonomous driving services. About 60 percent of their business is customer service—a third of which is on the phone, while the rest is over email or chat—and the other 40 percent is image tagging or content moderation, where TaskUs workers don’t interact with the customer. Maddock said TaskUs expects from $225 million to $250 million in sales this year and has about 11,000 employees spread across the Philippines, Taiwan, Mexico and the U.S., where workers handle more complicated tasks.

“We've seen many of our businesses want to bring some work back onshore and use a hybrid approach, with more sensitive work or higher-value work done onshore and a bigger portion of tier-one work done offshore,” Maddock said.

Maddock said he and his co-founder Jaspar Weir are staying on as CEO and president. They still own a sizeable minority stake of the company, he added. “Blackstone's intentions are to help us scale the business over the next five years and take it public,” he said.

Blackstone sold another outsourcing company, Intelenet Global Services, for $1 billion in a deal announced in June. 

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